Digital Resources for Teens

Senior High Source @ 2Learn.ca
This website, available for teens in grades 10 to 12 through 2learn.ca, is an interactive, informative site organized in a way that makes it accessible for teens. It is important that websites are intuitive and, with a few exceptions, this site is one that could be used with little to no explanation. The website allows for students to access information through keyword searching, and through curriculum-specific subject headings in the top navigation scheme. The website provides links to commonly-used resources like an online thesaurus, periodical table of the elements and citation checker; however, these may be hard for some students to find as they are at the end of the page and the user must scroll to access them. Students are also provided with the option of entering terms into search engines like Google and Yahoo through the 2learn.ca website, rather than making the student leave the site to find a search engine. Of greater importance, however, is the reminder beneath the search box to use multiple terms and different search engines. As this is an idea that may not occur to many students, having it present on the website may influence future searches in a very positive way, proving that teachable moments can be found in the digital world.

2Learn.ca for teens
Like the Senior High Source @ 2Learn.ca, the teen space provides information for students in grades 7-9 in a colourful way, with images and a variety of fonts. Although some of the fonts can be difficult to read, the images and colours will keep students engaged in the website, and make them feel like it was designed specifically for them. Students are given the option of searching the website using keywords, or of browsing by subject heading. This website is specific to the Alberta curriculum, but other students may find the resources useful. As on the Senior high version of the 2learn.ca website, links to helpful reference tools, like a dictionary and conversion calculator are available, after some scrolling. Students are also provided with the option of entering terms into search engines through the websites and are given the same admonition to use multiple terms and search engines for the best results. While this is overall a good resources, some confusion may occur with a teen using this site, as there is some information specifically for teachers provided in the middle of the main text.

The Canadian Encyclopedia
The Canadian Encyclopedia is a resource full of information about Canadian history, music and more. The main page of the website is dominated by a scrolling bar of images linked to topics of interest to Canadians. The advertisement bar at the top of the page takes up a lot of potentially valuable web "real estate," however, and users must scroll down to find the most interesting multimedia resources available on the site, including a timeline, gallery and interactive learning center based around specific events and subjects in Canadian history. While these amazing resources are practically hidden, once they are found by a student they provide a fun and engaging way of learning about Canadian history. The Canadian Encyclopedia site allows users to find information by keyword and, once they have entered into the multimedia resources, by a limited list of subjects. Other areas that students will enjoy are the "Quote", "How about that" and "On this day in Canadian history" features of the site.

Internet Public Library for teens: teenspace
The Internet Public Library for teens is a collection of articles, websites and interactive tools for students to use. This teenspace in the Internet Public Library has “Ask an IPL Librarian” prominently featured at the top of the pages throughout the site. Because students tend to seek out other people during their information seeking processes, it is key that they have the opportunity to talk to someone, even if it is only online. Teens can send in questions via a webform, thus preventing them from having to take the steps to open their email and copy and paste the email address. Having to do these multiple steps may prevent a teen from actually contacting the librarian, so this is an important feature to have. Teens can search the site using keywords or browse using subject headings. The website also has many interactive features, including a “Thing of the Week” on the procrastination page. This allows teens to comment on a suggested topic for the week, and to see what other teens think about it. One drawback to the site is that teens must often scroll down to the bottom of the screen in order to see all of the important information.

TeensHealth
TeensHealth is a “safe, private place” for teens who need to find information about different issues that might affect their health. The colours are engaging, and although the pages do often require scrolling, the most important information is near the top, and in the left navigation menu. Also, on subpages accessed through the left navigation menu, the lists of articles have been compressed, and can be expanded for viewing, thus preventing the need for scrolling. Multiple entry points into the information allow students to search via keyword or browse by subject heading. The website has organized its subpages so that the same information can be accessed based on how an individual’s mind works. For example, the article “A Guy’s Guide to Body Image” can be found in the Your Body section of the webpage under both “Body Beautiful” and “Taking Care of Your Body”. Therefore, this information is accessible both to teenagers looking for information about body image, and those looking for information on how to be healthier.

allmusic
allmusic is a collection of information about music from around the world. Information on the site can be searched using keywords, or browsed for by type of music. The home page design is intuitive, with the most important information featured at the top of the main webpage, and teenagers that like music will be able to make sense of the options available to them. The site map will be of particular interest for teens just looking to waste time, or find new music to suit their current mood. An added bonus is the ability for users to access short clips of songs, and images of the artists and their albums. Similar websites exist for games (allgame) and movies (allmovie) and can be accessed through allmusic.com, or by going to their individual websites.

The Internet Movie Database
The Internet Movie Database has become one of the most important sources of free information about films and the people who make them. The main way to search this site is by entering keywords into the prominent search box at the top of the page. The site also provides some subject browsing, but not to any great extent, and not by movie-type, which may be how some would wish to access the website. The Internet Movie Database provides a lot of opportunity for users to find information through links, as it is very deeply linked to pages within the site and to pages without. Multimedia features include photos and posters, while interactive features allow users to rate movies, provide reviews and discuss different issues through forums.

The Grouchy Cafe Presents: Favorite Teenage Angst Books
Favorite Teenage Angst Books is a website that provides information about books that are of special interest to teens. The colours and images are fun and engaging, and provide a lot of interest for the site. The headings are not totally intuitive, however, so that may be a stopping point for some users. The heading “Reviews,” for example, might be more appropriately titled “Books” or “Read these,” or something else that would be more immediately understood by users. Interactive features of the website include a forum where teens can discuss different books they’ve read and find out new things to read. Another aspect of the website that teens will find appealing is the fact that the author of the website uses normal, accessible language without sounding forced.